Design of the 1965-1966 Rambler AmbassadorAbernethy's ultimate goal was to meet the Big Three head-to-head, matching AMC's much larger rivals model-for-model by producing big cars as well as small ones. By 1969, the Ambassador's wheelbase would grow to 122 inches, an inch longer than that of the Ford LTD! Overall length would expand to 208 inches, up from 189.3 inches in 1963, and its weight would increase by some 350 pounds.
After the successful launch of the 1965 Ambassador, there seemed little need to change it much, and indeed the 1966 model was a virtual look-alike.
But it would take several years for the larger cars to come on line. In the interim, Abernethy and AMC styling chief Dick Teague undertook to draw as sharp a distinction as possible between the 1965 Ambassador and the less prestigious -- and more mainstream -- Rambler Classic. They began by extending the wheelbase of AMC's luxury line from 112 to 116 inches. Body shells continued to be shared with the Classic series, with the four-inch difference appearing in the length of the Ambassador's impressive-looking hood.
A number of styling studies were prepared. One of these bore some resemblance to Chrysler's 1963 experimental Turbine car. Another featured a flat grille with seven or eight horizontal ribs. Yet another sported bridgework that might have been inspired by a giant waffle iron. In keeping with AMC's conservative image, none could be considered radical in any sense.
In the end, Teague settled on a bold yet pleasing extruded aluminum grille design, with a number of horizontal ribs vee'd slightly forward and bordered by stacked, quad headlamps. Full-length chrome trim capped the crown of the side and fender panels, extending from the V-shaped profile of the front fenders to the full-height vertical taillights, silhouetting the car's striking new profile. The roofline was crisp, and the mildly sculptured side panels served to further accentuate the appearance of length. Chrome trim around the wheel openings was standard on hardtop and convertible models. AMC, obviously pleased with the results, talked up the 1965 Ambassador's "impressive new long-lived styling." Motor Trend agreed, calling it a "strikingly handsome automobile."
Learn more about the 1965-1966 Rambler Ambassador on the next page.
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